Summary: The illusion of transparency lingers on
THIS is the latest part in a series that explores Microsoft’s invasion into EU panels and the Commission’s unwillingness to allow transparency. To list previous posts chronologically (for context):
It has been two months and here is where we stand. They keep denying, procrastinating, and acting as though they don’t understand simple requests. The latest correspondence (anonymised) is below.
I hereby file a confirmatory application on grounds of Article 7(4) EC/1049/2001.
> Dear Mr. Schestowitz,
> Thank you for your e-mail of the 20th of March registered on 23rd of March applying for a copy of documents in accordance with Regulation (EC) N° 1049/2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents.
> Your application will be dealt with within the prescribed delays. You have requested access to the documents as follows:
> “I hereby request electronic access to all documents related to the Towards the European Software Strategy process in the posession of the EU-Commission, in particular access to the following documents:
> * the list of participants in the industry expert group
> * the list of WGs, WGs sleaders and observing Commission officials
> * draft contributions of all industry Working groups on a the European Software Strategy
> * draft input to all WG prepared by the Commission
> * the participant list of the related meeting on January 20th in Brussels
> * all submissions from industry to the ESS consultation under the applicable provisions of regulation 1049/2001 which grant me a right of access to all documents mentioned above.”
> However, as we notified you previously (see our email dated 15th of April) we are unable to identify the documents refereed to in the sixth item “all submissions from industry to the ESS consultation”. Please could you clarify your request so that we may continue to process this item. You have previously clarified item 4 on your list but not item 6.
> We are currently collecting the other requested documents and expect that we will be able to forward them to you shortly.
> Yours sincerely,
> —–Original Message—–
> From: Roy Schestowitz [anonymised]
> Sent: Wednesday, April 15, 2009 5:47 PM
> To: [anonymised]
> Cc: email@example.com; [anonymised]
> Subject: Re: Gestdem 2009/1562 FW: Document access application purpusant to Article 6 EC/1049/2001 (D/116606)
> —–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
> Hash: SHA1
> “Draft input to all WG prepared by the Commission” means the documents
> the chairs of the working groups or participants received from the
> Commission to guide the work in a particular group.
> – –
> ~~ Best of wishes
> Roy S. Schestowitz
> http://Schestowitz.com | GNU/Linux | PGP-Key: 0x74572E8E
> Freelance journalist @ http://itmanagement.earthweb.com/
>> Dear Mr. Schestowitz,
>> Thank you for your e-mail of the 20th of March registered on 23rd of March applying for a copy of documents in accordance with Regulation (EC) N° 1049/2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents.
>> Your application will be dealt with within the prescribed delays. You have requested access to the documents as follows:
>> “I hereby request electronic access to all documents related to the Towards the European Software Strategy process in the posession of the EU-Commission, in particular access to the following documents:
>> * the list of participants in the industry expert group
>> * the list of WGs, WGs sleaders and observing Commission officials
>> * draft contributions of all industry Working groups on a the European Software Strategy
>> * draft input to all WG prepared by the Commission
>> * the participant list of the related meeting on January 20th in Brussels
>> * all submissions from industry to the ESS consultation under the applicable provisions of regulation 1049/2001 which grant me a right of access to all documents mentioned above.”
>> However, we are unable to identify the documents refereed to in the fourth item “draft input to all WG prepared by the Commission” and the sixth item “all submissions from industry to the ESS consultation”. Please could you clarify your request so that we may continue to process it.
>> Yours sincerely,
They cannot deny access for much longer. This are already well overdue. According to the rules:
Processing of initial applications
1. An application for access to a document shall be handled promptly. An acknowledgement of receipt shall be sent to the applicant. Within 15 working days from registration of the application, the institution shall either grant access to the document requested and provide access in accordance with Article 10 within that period or, in a written reply, state the reasons for the total or partial refusal and inform the applicant of his or her right to make a confirmatory application in accordance with paragraph 2 of this Article.
2. In the event of a total or partial refusal, the applicant may, within 15 working days of receiving the institution’s reply, make a confirmatory application asking the institution to reconsider its position.
3. In exceptional cases, for example in the event of an application relating to a very long document or to a very large number of documents, the time-limit provided for in paragraph 1 may be extended by 15 working days, provided that the applicant is notified in advance and that detailed reasons are given.
4. Failure by the institution to reply within the prescribed time-limit shall entitle the applicant to make a confirmatory application.
Processing of confirmatory applications
1. A confirmatory application shall be handled promptly. Within 15 working days from registration of such an application, the institution shall either grant access to the document requested and provide access in accordance with Article 10 within that period or, in a written reply, state the reasons for the total or partial refusal. In the event of a total or partial refusal, the institution shall inform the applicant of the remedies open to him or her, namely instituting court proceedings against the institution and/or making a complaint to the Ombudsman, under the conditions laid down in Articles 230 and 195 of the EC Treaty, respectively.
2. In exceptional cases, for example in the event of an application relating to a very long document or to a very large number of documents, the time limit provided for in paragraph 1 may be extended by 15 working days, provided that the applicant is notified in advance and that detailed reasons are given.
3. Failure by the institution to reply within the prescribed time limit shall be considered as a negative reply and entitle the applicant to institute court proceedings against the institution and/or make a complaint to the Ombudsman, under the relevant provisions of the EC Treaty.
They have no clue about the time limits of 1049/2001 and think they may discuss this ad nauseam. The process involving Ombudsman might be interesting.
On a related note, earlier today we were made aware of attempts in the UK to bring Free software to the government. Will the process be equally opaque? █
UK citizens and MEPs support Europe-wide Free Software Pact
London, UK – Friday May 22, 2009 – The Free Software Pact initiative calls
upon UK citizens and MEP candidates to stand up for the principles of a
free society by backing free software in the upcoming European
Parliament elections on June 4, 2009.
The Free Software Pact is a European initiative to allow candidates for
the upcoming European elections to show the voting public that they
favour the development and use of free software, and will protect it
from threatening EU legislation. It is also a tool for citizens who
value free software to educate candidates about it’s importance and why
they should, if elected, protect the European free software community.
The European Parliament is the venue for crucial talks concerning free
software, including software patents, interoperability and net
neutrality. It is therefore vital to show election candidates why they
should support, and sign, the Free Software Pact.
Mark Taylor, the coordinator for the Free Software Pact in the UK,
said, The current UK Government is embarrassingly behind the rest of Europe in formulating public policy on the use of free software. Across the rest of the continent we see significant adoption and political support for free software. The Free software Pact is therefore an ideal way to draw attention to the reform the UK public sector needs and the enormous cost savings yet to be realized. For too long the UK has been dependent on the relationship with proprietary software companies like Microsoft, who are hell-bent on keeping our politicians confused on this matter. If you care about this situation, and the resulting cost to our economy, society and political culture, please contact the MEP candidates in your region and ask them to sign the Free Software Pact.
The Free Software Pact is also supported by Richard M. Stallman, founder
and president of the Free Software Foundation, who said, Big dangers threaten the freedoms of free software in Europe: software patents, digital restrictions management (DRM), bundled sales and treacherous computing… I call on all European citizens who value free software to join this campaign, contact their candidates and have them sign the Free Software Pact.
A list of UK MEP candidates and their contact details can be found at
Candidates can support the Free Software Pact by signing a copy of the
pact and faxing, mailing or emailing a copy by following the
About The Free Software pact
The Free Software Pact (FSP) is a citizen initiative, launched by Free
Software advocacy associations April (France, http://www.april.org) and
Associazione per il software libero (Italy,
http://www.softwarelibero.it), to coordinate a European scale campaign
in favour of free software. The FSP is providing materials and software
to any volunteer who contributes to the initiative. More information can
be found at their website http://www.freesoftwarepact.eu.
Mark Taylor, UK Coordinator for the Free Software Pact
Phone: +44 7967 687379
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Summary: Scott Dorsey on Microsoft’s behaviour in many areas
A READER sent us the following message last night:
Interesting post from an old-timer regarding Microsoft’s adherence to standards. I can’t find the reference, but I’m betting that it goes way back (i.e. Microsoft Mail is what they now call Exchange):
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Scott Dorsey)
Subject: Re: Microsoft refuses to accept need for postmaster@ address.
Date: 20 May 2009 21:15:29 -0400
Organization: Former users of Netcom shell (1989-2000)
X-Trace: reader1.panix.com 1242868530 85 184.108.40.206 (21 May 2009 01:15:30 GMT)
NNTP-Posting-Date: Thu, 21 May 2009 01:15:30 +0000 (UTC)
Xref: uni-berlin.de news.admin.net-abuse.email:2817085
James W Anderson email@example.com wrote:
> > As you have mentioned that Microsoft does not currently provide a
> >Postmaster@Microsoft.com address space per RFC821 and RFC822, we do
> >provide a full help and support site at http://postmaster.live.com for
> >both inbound and outbound SMTP and HTTP mail transmission support
> >So they in the end don't want to provide a valid postmaster address.
As the Microsoft Mail folks explained to Eric Allman when he pointed out
RFC822 violations, "Microsoft doesn't follow standards, they create them."
Meanwhile, there is plenty of coverage popping up about the latest news, namely the ODF Alliance's reaction to MSODF:
Slashdot: ODF Alliance: Microsoft Support for ODF is Lacking
The ODF Alliance has prepared a Fact Sheet for governments and others interested in how Microsoft’s SP2 for Office 2007 handles ODF. The report revealed ‘serious shortcomings that, left unaddressed, would break the open standards based interoperability that the marketplace, especially governments, is demanding.
Linux Magazine: ODF Alliance: Microsoft Support for ODF is Lacking
The Open Document Format (ODF) Alliance has analyzed whether Microsoft’s Service Pack 2 for Office 2007 fulfills the promise for compatibility with the free document standard. Their findings give little reason to hope.
There is a lot more in other languages, for example:
Microsoft does not like standards, except its own. █
“What we are trying to do is use our server control to do new protocols and lock out Sun and Oracle specifically”
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Disputes go both ways
Summary: Microsoft wanted software patents and it got them… penalised time after time
THE INQUIRER says that “Microsoft [is] guilty of patent infringement” and it even adds a GIMPed version of Steve Ballmer to the article.
A TEXAS JURY has ordered Microsoft to cough up $200 million to Canadian collaborative content firm, i4i, for infringing on its patents.
The Register wrote about that too and so has AFP:
Microsoft has been ordered to pay at least $200m to i4i, a Canadian software firm for infringing patents in the way that Microsoft Word handles documents.
A jury in the US state of Texas ordered US computer software giant Microsoft on Wednesday to pay 200 million dollars to a Canadian company for patent infringement.
This news is pretty major, so it’s all over the place.
What is the take-home message? Well, it comes to show that Microsoft is holding a two-edged sword that may sooner or later have it regret the patent strategy against its #1 threat, Free software.
Yesterday we wrote about Microsoft’s artificial limitations patent and now we find Linux Magazine covering this from a FOSS perspective, which may be helpful.
With U.S. Patent 7,536,726, Microsoft has been granted a patent with which they hope to make a successful business model out of a potentially severely restricted operating system.
Some time ago we wrote about a patent lawsuit which targeted the Linux-powered Kindle. The latest news, as of yesterday, is that Amazon retaliates in defence.
Amazon lobbies a salvo back at Discovery Communications in response to the cable network’s patent infringement lawsuit over the Kindle.
This may be a little interesting because Linux runs the device which is attacked for being “electronic book with DRM”. █
“The current “patent thicket,” in which anyone who writes a successful software programme is sued for alleged patent infringement, highlights the current IP system’s failure to encourage innovation” —Pr Joseph Stiglitz (Nobel Laureate in Economics), IP-Watch
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In the same vein, if Novell and Microsoft call it "Microsoft Moonlight", does it make Moonlight developers de facto Microsoft employees?
Summary: A look at Novell’s Microsoft-esque activities this week
IT cannot be emphasised strongly enough that Flash is not like Silverlight. These are two very different animals and Microsoft Moonlight is no better. Here is a good new article that goes through some of the key points:
Flash isn’t going open source, but it may already be more open than Moonlight
On top of that, it’s important to note that Moonlight isn’t completely open. Like Flash, Moonlight makes use of third-party codecs that are closed.
Want more good news? Microsoft only “covenants to not sue” over Moonlight applications that utilize it 1) as an in-browser plugin 2) on a personal computer and 3) aren’t licensed as GPLv3 or a “similar license.” The icing on the cake? That protection only applies to Novell and its subsidiaries – so your independent app wouldn’t count, unless Novell owns 50% of you.
Adobe, on the other hand, grants full patent use to anyone who builds anything with Flash. So while you can develop and sell whatever the heck you want using the technologies that power Flash and Adobe will post about it on their Twitter account, developing with Moonlight could result in nasty legal proceedings.
So which platform is really more “open?” Flash or Moonlight?
Looking at the news this week, watch just what else Novell is doing. Visual Studio plug-in.
Novell’s Mono team was on hand to demonstrate a Visual Studio plug-in for Mono code development. Applications are deployed and debugged in Mono by using a Linux virtual machine. The company also previewed Mono Moonlight 2.0, an open-source variation of Microsoft Silverlight 2.
Watch this new comment:
wow, just like iFolder from Novell. If Novell just lost something else to Ubuntu. Novell, stop acting like Micro$oft, please?
Also found a couple of days ago: Novell keeps obtaining software patents. The latest additions:
Methods and systems to fast fill media players , patent No. 7,536,474, invented by Jamshid Mahdavi of San Jose, Calif., assigned to Novell, Inc. of Provo.
Parallelizing multiple boot images with virtual machines , patent No. 7,536,541, invented by Scott A. Isaacson of Kamuela, Hawaii, assigned to Novell Inc. of Provo.
This hopefully sheds light on what kind of company Novell really is. Every single week it’s just like that. A lot of Novell’s revenue comes from Microsoft. █
“[The partnership with Microsoft is] going very well insofar as we originally agreed to co-operate on three distinct projects and now we’re working on nine projects and there’s a good list of 19 other projects that we plan to co-operate on.”
–Ron Hovsepian, Novell CEO
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“Give us whatever you got…”
Summary: Microsoft’s plan of elevating charities is far from an elevation now that times are rough
THE COST of lock-in is very high, but it may take a while for it to ‘kick in’ — so to speak — and actually take effect. The user is always at the mercy of the vendor which can change rules and prices while preventing access to program code and formats (specifications, if any). It is a hostage situation and a forever-ticking time bomb.
Microsoft’s investors are desperate for a renaissance now that Microsoft is not only stagnant but sees its income falling by staggering numbers.
What might Microsoft do?
Demand payment from those least able to pay.
Is this a wise strategy?
Judge by this new article:
Microsoft charity crackdown spurs boycott
Microsoft faces a backlash from thousands of aged care providers and charities that are set to dump its software to avoid some A$50 million in price hikes.
The Redmond giant is pressing ahead with new global software licensing agreements, some imposing a whopping 500 percent price increase, to stamp-out what it initially claimed were illegal uses of its discounted offerings by not-for-profit agencies.
This is not the first such story from Australia. There was a similar story last year, so these charities ought to drop Microsoft immediately and hopefully move to GNU/Linux.
How funny it must be that while Microsoft plays tough with tax-exempt charities, Microsoft itself wants huge tax breaks. We previously wrote about Microsoft's debt and tax evasion as well as the tendency to find cheaper labour, betray those promises it made to senator Grassley, and take advantage of Abramoff visas. Now there is this:
Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT) have seen their bottom lines bulge over the years by farming out work for cheaper compensation to overseas countries. Now, with the U.S. economy reeling, President Obama’s $190 billion tax proposal that ends incentives for American companies to create employment overseas while hoping to create more jobs in America won’t necessarily have the intended impact, according to economists, businesses and some Obama insiders, Bloomberg reports.
Can the money Microsoft paid Obama help the company reverse or mitigate this? Microsoft only cares about itself. █
“A human being is a part of a whole, called by us _universe_, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
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Microsoft blocks Safari and Firefox at universities
Summary: Microsoft continues to play hardball and it evades justice in the European Web browsers case
WE are fortunate to have a leaked copy of the Live@Edu offer. It shows what motivates some academic institutions to fall into this trap. It’s pure greed. Now watch this from the news: [thanks to Terry Porter]
Sydney Uni students vent about Microsoft email system
University of Sydney students have taken to online forums to vent about the institution switching its email over to Microsoft’s Live@edu product earlier this month.
Microsoft released a statement today confirming the University had selected Live@edu as its default student email system.
“The University initially began looking at solutions as the old system offered limited email and online storage capabilities,” Microsoft said.
Representatives of the student body and “other key academic and administrative stakeholders” across the University reportedly piloted the new email system before committing to it.
But it appears not all students are happy with the change.
Several hit the Bored of Studies forum and individual blogs to vent frustration, particularly at the supposed lack of features available to users of non-Microsoft browsers.
“Most of the settings pages for the e-mail service are completely unavailable in Firefox [or] Safari,” an engineering student posted on the rantingfrog blog.
It’s time for Microsoft to stop playing these games. It has become almost the rule rather than the exception.
In in other news, regarding Europe’s investigation into crimes related to Internet Explorer, how about this?
Microsoft cancels oral hearing in EC browser-bundling case
So what happens now? Will the European Commission issue accelerate its final ruling — which more than a few observers are expecting will be in favor of Opera and possibly involve a hefty fine plus un-bundling remedies, based on the wording of the EC’s preliminary findings in the matter — with no further input?
Oiaohm, who points to this page from Microsoft’s lobbying Web site, asks: “Why should a court case be allowed to work as advertisement? And why should a court case be run to the time line of the defendant?”
Does Microsoft want to ship an inherently anti-competitive operating system before the regulators get a chance to correct this? █
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Summary: Companies to watch out for and their relationship with Novell and Microsoft
THIS IS A LIST OF NEWS AND OBSERVATIONS about companies which serve Microsoft. They all have something in common. They have roots in Microsoft.
Likewise is close to Microsoft and it is also made up from its employees. According to the following press release (also here, here, and here), the ongoing relationship with Novell tightens a bit.
Likewise announced today that its Likewise Enterprise offering will ship as part of SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11 from Novell.
There is of course a journal like CIOL to just present the press release and pretend it was an original article. Kristin Shoemaker, who has an indirect relationship with Novell, wrote about that too.
This is in no small part why Likewise’s software, geared to simplify managing and securing mixed networks using Active Directory services, is now being offered to SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11 users. The Enterprise version of Likewise’s software will be integrated with the SUSE Desktop and available through SUSE 11 repositories.
John Fontana has an article about this in a few IDG domain, all going under the headline “Novell’s SLED 11 to ship with Active Directory gateway technology.” They are essentially paying Microsoft for this, but the payments go to Bellevue-based former Microsoft employees. This helps Microsoft control the price of GNU/Linux (namely elevate the cost and thus make it less attractive ). Why can’t they just use open standards?
Xenocode is a company filled with (former) Microsoft employees and since Microsoft is an open source xenophobe, this by no means helps. In its latest press release, Xenocode mentions its relationship with Novell that may involve software patents (or just licensing of proprietary code).
Xenocode also supports delivery of applications to enterprise desktops via Active Directory, LANDesk Management Suite, and BMC Configuration Management. Xenocode technology has been licensed by Novell and is available as part of Novell ZENworks Application Virtualization.
A couple of days ago we wrote about Black Duck, a company created by a Microsoft guy to produce proprietary software that capitalises on free/open source software. Its latest move with Microsoft might have it characterised as somewhat of a “bridge opener” — that is — an entity immersing itself in the open source world and then inviting Microsoft to become part of it in its embrace, extend and extinguish fashion. Novell is like that too. But here is another interesting observation.
Microsoft employees are now writing in the Seattle P-I (not just ghostwriting) and here is one Microsoft employee publishing to say that “CodePlex Okayed by Duck.”
As Dana Blankenhorn puts it, “Black Duck calls Microsoft open source mainstream.” In addition he points out:
Tony Rahman, a Microsoft program manager writing in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reader blog, says “each quarter it seems more leaders and their teams are onboard with the new attitude of cooperation, openness, and transparency.”
Believe him? Or is this post going to ignite yet-another Microsoft flame war?
This is just business as usual to Microsoft.
There is a new press release proudly going under the headline “Why a Windows based PBX trumps a Linux based appliance or proprietary PBX.”
Is it a study?
Is this a fact?
No, it’s just a press release from a Microsoft Gold-certified partner issuing whitepapers that are hostile to GNU/Linux. They sell Windows of course. Follow the money. It usually boils down to someone’s interests because objective studies don’t write themselves. █
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